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Caroline, Or Change
Caroline or Change Musical Logo.png
Music Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics Tony Kushner
Book Tony Kushner
Productions 2003 Off-Broadway
2004 Broadway
2006 London
2009 Guthrie Theater
Awards Olivier Award Best Musical

Caroline, Or Change is a through-composed musical with book and lyrics by Tony Kushner and score by Jeanine Tesori that combines spirituals, blues, Motown, classical music, and Jewish Klezmer and folk music.


Production history

The musical was first workshopped in May 1999 at New York's off-Broadway Public Theater. Director George C. Wolfe continued to workshop the musical at the Public Theater, where it opened on November 30, 2003 and closed on February 1, 2004. It transferred to Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on May 2, 2004 and closed on August 29, 2004 after 136 performances and 22 previews. The musical starred Tonya Pinkins in the title role, Anika Noni Rose as Emmie Thibodeaux, Harrison Chad as Noah Gellman, Veanne Cox as Rose Stopnick Gellman and Chandra Wilson as Dotty Moffett. (all both off-and on-Broadway). The choregrapher was Hope Clarke, scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez; costume design by Paul Tazewell; and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Despite its relatively short run, it was critically acclaimed and nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Opening in October 2006, a London production at the National Theatre on the Lyttelton stage, also directed by Wolfe, ran in repertory with Marianne Elliot's production of Thérèse Raquin to January 2007. The production did not transfer to the West End but did win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The opening night cast in London starred Tonya Pinkins as Caroline. Other cast members included Pippa Bennett-Warner as Emmie Thibodeaux, Anna Francolini as Rose Stopnick Gellman, Hilton McRae as Mr. Stopnick, Perry Millward, Jonny Weldon and Greg Bernstein alternating as Noah and Clive Rowe as the dryer/bus.

In regional theatre, Pinkins and Rose reprised their roles in late 2004 at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California[1] and in early 2005 at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco, California.[2]. The Chicago premiere at the Court Theatre in fall 2008 earned 4 Jeff awards[3], for director Charles Newell, Musical Director Doug Peck, star E. Faye Butler, and best production of a musical at a large scale theater. Other productions include Center Stage, Baltimore, Maryland, in December 2008-January 2009 with E. Faye Butler;[4] and the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2009 - June 2009.[5].


The musical is set in 1963 in Lake Charles, Louisiana during the American civil rights movement, around the time of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Caroline Thibodeaux is a black maid for a Southern Jewish family, the Gellmans, spending her days in their dank basement doing the laundry. The Gellmans' young son, Noah, has a strong emotional connection to Caroline, a woman resistant to the sweep of change she sees around her. She provides stability during his grief at his mother's death from cancer. Noah's new stepmother Rose, unable to give Caroline a raise, enlists Caroline's help in a plan to teach Noah a lesson about leaving change in his pants pocket. Rose tells Noah and Caroline that Caroline should keep the money Noah leaves in his pockets. Caroline loathes taking money from a child – but her own children desperately need food, clothing, and shoes. Noah deliberately leaves money in his pockets, dreaming that Caroline's family talk about him as they spend it.

The punishment goes awry when a $20 bill goes missing, and Caroline's relationship with Noah suffers a painful breakdown, causing a rift between her family and the Gellmans. With the death of JFK and the inspirational speeches of Martin Luther King, the tide of change begins to affect Caroline's life, and she must come to terms with racial turmoil and the end of segregation. But the upbeat ending, involving Caroline's daughter Emmie, portends hope for Caroline's people and family.

Awards and nominations

Drama Desk Award (2004)
  • Outstanding Musical (nomination)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical (nomination)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Anika Noni Rose)(nomination)
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical (nomination)
  • Outstanding Book of a Musical (nomination)
  • Outstanding Music (win) (Jeanine Tesori)
Lucille Lortel Awards (2004)
  • Outstanding Musical (winner)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress (Pinkins) (winner)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress (Rose) (winner)
  • Outstanding Choreographer (winner)
  • Outstanding Costume Design (Paul Tazewell) (nomination)
Obie Awards 2003-2004
  • Outstanding Performance (Pinkins) (winner)
  • Special Citations (Kushner and Tesori) (winner)
Tony Award
  • Best Musical (nomination)
  • Best Book (Kushner) (nomination)
  • Best Score (Tesori) (nomination)
  • Best Actress (Pinkins) (nomination)
  • Best Featured Actress (Rose) (winner)
  • Best Direction (Wolfe) (nomination)
Olivier Award (2007), Best New Musical


External links



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